Tag Archives: Angelina

Soho Farmhouse

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Once upon a time, the privileged were lonely.

They were forced to huddle in their 80,000 square foot properties, looking at pictures of each other in Hello!

Now there is a place where they can go and ignore each other in the flesh.

That place is Soho Farmhouse, the not-in-Soho, not-so-country-bumpkin latest addition to Nick Jones’ brace of stylish leisure centres for non-hipsters with a party pulse.

Belonging here is serious business. It’s not uncommon for the Aspirational to kill founder members and wear their skin, in the way Hannibal Lector might if he once worked in media, but now lacked the clout for his application to be seconded by a Lord.

There’s a swell of anticipation on the approach, down roads only visible through Celine prescription sunglasses. Based on the feverish development underway, you glimpse a Soho Gloucestershire on the horizon; one field’s being prepared as an underground propolis city for Cowshed toe cream.

The car park would square up comfortably to a premiership footballer’s front drive, motoring prize poodles lined up cheek-to-jowl sporting ‘my other car’s a helicopter’ stickers. You’re not sure where best to slip in: apparently, a Maserati drops £20k in value every time a Honda stops alongside.

Ah, but when your feet first connect with that socially-rich soil, can it matter how you got there? If there’s no-one from security chasing you down at 5 mph in a sleek buggy, then you’re IN.

It feels rather special to gain access to a member’s-only fiefdom, in a county where ordinary people get electrocuted for using the wrong paint colour- like being rubbed all over with insulating smug butter.

The mix of exclusivity with wholesome fresh air is so destabilising, for a moment you fear you might forget to ‘check in’ on your iPhone.

Regardless, it’s important to betray no elation while gliding around these grounds; smiling here indicates you are having a nervous breakdown and heading straight back to The Priory after your weekend release. Or, worse, that you are very, very grateful to have a friend to bring you along.

I stand on the path and drink it all in, feeling very, very grateful.

It’s a phenomenon less country club, more urbal settlement (that’s an odious little truncation of urban and rural).

There are wooden cabins and outhouses and gyms dotted all around, like a 3-D avatar village for aesthetes who eat artisan tempeh and remember Playschool.

There’s a small lake with boats, and steam rising from a cool, heated outdoor pool; bicycles to borrow while the Bentley rests; outdoor sofas with cushions in faultlessly-nice colours; log pits burning; table tennis tables; snooker.

You can go ice-skating, or film-watching, or people spying, and unless you pass a mirror you could up-end every nook and cranny, and you wouldn’t see one solitary unbeautiful object.

God week-ends here, occasionally riding around in an SF vintage-style trap pulled by one of the horses, trying to look like a feature film director.

And entertainment’s not the end of it.

There are stores that offer an opportunity to replicate this perfection at home- delicacies, and dinner jackets, and Elephant’s Breath plants.

Everywhere you look- every turn of the maze you take- tastefully-displayed premium quality wonder goods are available for purchase. The entire premises is, in fact, 100% bullet-proofed against naffness. (Note: Farmhousers don’t find naffness funny; they let their nephew get on with that in Dalston.)

Inside the main food hall, the honey-hued hum of success emits.

Whether gained through fame, hard graft, good looks, or good luck, money is talking.

These are people who live life in capital letters. Their hair is Hair. Their coat is a Coat.

They look at you a fraction too long, in order to conduct on your body a Terminator scan of social relevance.

When they see that not only are you not Amal Clooney, but you’re also not Kelly Hoppen, you have to absorb the disappointed-dismissive balancing essential oil mix that’s sweating from their newly-massaged bodies.

The food is amazing. The service is amazing. Everyone’s shoes are amazing.

There’s a woman with fluorescent teeth playing boules, and a comedian having lunch as if he’s just a regular guy who needs to eat. Children in cashmere wellingtons are being chased around the courtyard by Cara Delevigne wearing a Scooby Doo onesie. What, will Angelina’s lips soon be booking themselves into the cinema room with copper mugs of Moscow Mule?

Where are all the real people? your head spins. ‘Take me back to Kansas.’

Then a teenaged member of staff, with spots and a local accent, asks if you left your antibiotics in the bathroom and- crypes- it’s really happening, after all.

Like squeezy honey, or penicillin, Soho Farmhouse is so necessary you wonder why it hasn’t been invented before.

The answer may lie in the Soho Empire expansion strategy, which mirrors the life stages of an adman: Central London in his heyday (chop ’em up); stints in the States (can I powder prescriptions drugs?); wife and kids in Chiswick, with weekends at Bab house (did you bring the viagra?) whoah, still got it! in Shoreditch (mdma bombs): enjoying his career spoils in the countryside (how could you even suggest it? Oh go on then, rack me up a Cheeky); keeping it real/ feeling a bit shot, tbh, in the Bush (weak tea, 2 Candarels).

Soho Beachhut’s planned in for Bournemouth 2030: ermine-trimmed zimmers and a Soho Font ‘Bowling Alley’ sign re-housed from another location, with the ‘alley’ blacked out.

I wallow in the glow. I never want to leave. Life at Soho Farmhouse is too damn good.

But I falter. Do I belong? With my fake Hermes bag, and unmanicured nails, and my hair that is just hair.

Then it dawns on me. If there’s one thing that fabulous needs more than fabulous, it’s an audience.

So I complete this daydream on a gorgeous sofa in front of the fire with my own (more quietly) fabulous friends.

Drinking jasmine tea, and wondering whose skin would fit me best.

*

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Gwynnie and me

‘Can I help you out with that trash?’

I heard a voice over my shoulder and, sure enough, when I looked up it was Gwyneth Paltrow on a break from up-dating her website, GOOP.

I knew very well she was being ironic. Certainly, she seemed quite tickled by the notion of it. So I left my chore and invited her into my mouse house.

After I’d washed my hands I got some fish fingers out of the fridge. They can defrost together, I thought as I welcomed her warmly.

Gwynnie is a piece of alabaster perfection and she can do long and short hair, as she showed us in Sliding Doors. I asked for some beauty tips, which she surrendered gracefully.

Nevertheless, she roundly dismissed my offer to paint her nails, with a snort through her elegant nose.

‘Do you prefer Luke or Owen Wilson?’ I asked, referring to her roles in the Wes Anderson films.

‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly choose between them,’ she replied coyly.

‘I could,’ I revealed. ‘Owen. More chamomile tea?’

We went for a walk around Ravenscourt Park so she could get some air. She seemed to relax a little but I have to admit I was quite annoyed because she was wearing sunglasses so no-one knew who she was.

She told me she thinks shampoo gives children cancer and that she bounces on a trampoline to sculpt the fabulous skyscraper heel legs that tell the world she’s sexy even though she’s the mother of Moses and a piece of fruit.

‘And Chris- well, he’s so talented. He takes his music very seriously,’ she opened up.

‘Do you think he takes quite a lot of stuff seriously?’ I asked, trying to widen my eyes.

‘No, not at all,’ she replied very seriously. ‘Chris has got a fantastic sense of humour. Just this morning over breakfast he was saying something really funny… Now what was that?’

I let her flail around like a weighted puppy for what seemed like an eternity before blowing the whistle and diving in with a basic bacon and egg gag, at which she laughed so hard I began to wonder if she really does find Chris a bit of a card.

I could tell right from the get-go that she wasn’t going to dish the dirt- she’s not desperate enough, having been born into fame and privilege.

So I took the liberty of switching off and playing ‘shag, marry, cliff’, teaming her up with Jennifer and Angelina, seeing as they all like a bit of Brad Pitt.

It was a no-brainer she was ‘marry’- hell, I’d already managed to spend a few hours in her company without really listening. The other two were easy as well: ‘shag’ Jen and ‘cliff’ Angelina (playing the rules by my original understanding of them, whereby ‘cliff’ is the person you are so crazy about you would be willing to jump off one with them).

When I came round, Gwynnie was talking about Anna Wintour and I regretted not paying attention. She said Anna started inviting her to lunches with John Galliano after her Oscar win and reckoned it was because the Queen of Vogue admired her work.

I let it slide. But it got me thinking about Shakespeare in Love.

‘Joseph Fiennes is quite intense but don’t you think his eyes are too close together?’ I asked, hungry for her professional opinion.

‘I was so blessed to work with Jo. He’s a giant of an actor,’ she replied.

‘Wow. Taller than Tim Robbins?’ I asked.

I think I got the wrong end of the stick but I knew she was relieved I didn’t allude to her acceptance speech debacle.

Instead, I praised her English accent and told her she was much better than Renee Zellweger, who sounds like she’s being goosed by the President but can’t let on.

Gwynnie found this remark distasteful. Angelina had warned me that she was a cut above but did I listen? No.

‘Have some of my Mum’s fruit cake with a thin layer of Lurpak butter on it,’ I suggested as she gathered her mobile phones to leave.

In reply to which- and oh, please God, may I never feel so wrong again- she gave me a look that still sends shivers down my spine.

‘I’m not sure I get you, Sophie,’ she said eventually, as she let two bodyguards help her on with her trainers. ‘But probing characters is my vocation so I’m going to take you to bed with me for a few nights to see what I can figure out.’

O.K, I thought.

As long as you don’t mind Jennifer Aniston joining us.

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Jen and me

I checked my email one morning last month: accountants, a friend, the Viagra folks, Jennifer Aniston.

What?

I opened it up with a tingling sensation. This is what it said:

‘Hey Sophie,

Jen Aniston here. This is out of the blue, I know, but I heard you were good to hang around with and I could use some good at the moment. My love life is all over the place. Arrrggghhhhhhhhhh!

I was wondering if you would like to come over to Malibu to spend the week-end with me? Courteney might be around too, as her marriage is on the skids and she wants me to cook her a lasagne.

Do you think you could get a flight?’

Well, I read it over a couple of times and then I actually thumped the table with my fist and said ‘Excellent’ out loud.

Then I thought about how I was going to reply. I wondered if I should be mysterious or grateful.

In the end I opted for simple: a woman like that is busy.

‘Hello Jen,

Do Easyjet fly there?

Sophie x’

Well, they don’t but other airlines do so I booked myself one up.

I grabbed some magazines from WHSmith before I went, to do some background reading. As Jen’s not a fan of gossip I wouldn’t tell her that. But I felt I should know the word on the street.

It said she is still stepping out with John Mayer but her ex Tate Donovan wants her back- sorry, but he’ll have to change his name first.

Jen didn’t come to the airport to meet me but she sent a driver so I still felt special. I fiddled with the window controls and contemplated my catalogue bikini. I knew I didn’t need a designer body though; the pressure would be all on her.

When we arrived I was bowled over by her sumptuous pad but even moreso by her. She’s just everything she’s cracked up to be and very kind to her staff too.

‘Welcome, welcome,’ she gushed warmly.

‘You’re tiny!,’ I blurted out, somewhat inappropriately.

We went on to have a seriously good week-end, boogie boarding and chatting. And she’s not stupid either: she beat me at a variety of board games.

Courteney didn’t materialise in the end but Jen still made a lasagne. I prefer meat ones but it wasn’t terrible.

One afternoon Jen really opened up. She got up close and looked into my eyes.

‘Do you know, Sophie, I panic if I don’t exercise regularly. I’m terrified I’m going to get a fuller Greek figure and start to lose roles. And men. It’s almost a neurosis.’

‘I understand you, Jennifer,’ I said at just the right time.

‘Really?’ she replied, eagerly.

‘Yes. I worry that if I don’t run every day I won’t sleep very well.’

Jen sat up straight and looked at me for a while without speaking. I couldn’t read the expression on her face so I quickly added, ‘I love Greek yoghurt.’

I think it must have resonated with her because after that she said she needed some air and went onto the terrace.

Presently, I’m In The Mood For Dancing came on the sound system and Jen ran back in to turn it up.

‘This song is awesome!’ she exclaimed. And with that she jumped onto the glass coffee table and started shaking her perfect bottom around.

Oh, God, no, I thought. This is not how I want to remember this trip: awkward rhythmical movements to The Nolan Sisters. I want to recall the beach volleyball and the wink she gave me when she put the umbrella in my Schnapps cocktail.

I disappeared into the bathroom and came out when I heard the song fade.

‘You look like you’re about to tell me something you don’t want to,’ she said perceptively.

‘I’m not sure about John Mayer,’ I confessed.

‘Do you know him?’ she asked, alarmed.

‘Not exactly. But I know his type. Too young and pleased with himself. Rank old tattoo too.’ (I laughed at the ‘too too’ at the end of my sentence. She looked at me the way people look at mime artists in shopping centres.)

‘I appreciate your honesty but I’m in love,’ she whimpered a bit drippily.

‘Yes, I know. And tick-tock,’ I said, squeezing her hand.

Then I asked her if she wanted another twiglet but she said no thanks, she was full.

When it was time to leave she said she had a surprise for me and came back 10 minutes later on a vintage Ducati motorbike with a spare helmet.

It was one of the coolest trips I’ve ever taken. I felt like Kelly McGillis in Top Gun, even with the sidecar buckling under the weight of my lugguage.

She might have done it to avoid any heart-to-hearts about Brad but I’m too sensitive for that. Plus I’m hoping Angelina may get in touch one day.

Or maybe she’s fed up talking about Friends but I doubt she knows much more about the cast than I do.

‘I like you, Sophie, because you’re real,’ she said when we kissed goodbye.

‘And I like you, Jen, because you’re not,’ said I and spent the flight home re-living my perfect riposte.

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